Pittsburgh Military Divorce Lawyer
Joining the military is a noble pursuit, yet it is well-known that it can be extremely difficult on marriages. Whether you and your spouse are both in the military or just one of you serves, it can be hard to manage demanding schedules in a way that leaves time to nurture your relationship. After years of service, you may decide that it is best for you to seek a divorce. Unfortunately, if you are in the military or your spouse still is, then you need to work with a military divorce lawyer. There are many laws that impact when and how divorces involving service members may take place. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we are well-versed in military-related family matters and can help you navigate this legal process while you or your loved one continues to serve.
Considerations for Military Divorces
If you are interested in filing for divorce from a spouse who is in the military, you need to speak with an experienced military divorce lawyer about these and other considerations:
- Active Duty– Service members are protected by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act from being sued during active duty and for 60 days following the end of active duty. This ensures they can focus on their work and not try to deal with legal proceedings while traveling or serving overseas where it may be impossible to contact and hire the appropriate legal representation. If your spouse is currently on active duty, speak with an attorney and prepare for when it is lawful and reasonable to file. You should also discuss ask your attorney about how this active duty period impacts your separation. A period of separation is required to obtain a no-fault divorce.
- Jurisdiction– You will need to discuss with an attorney the entire military divorce process, starting with where you can and should file for divorce. Before you can ask a court to grant you a divorce, you must establish that the court has jurisdiction over you. Each state has its own residency requirements. In Pennsylvania, you must have resided in the state for at least six months. You may be able to file in Pennsylvania if you and your spouse are stationed here, or if it is your or your spousal’s legal permanent residence. Speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your options for where and when to file. You should not only take into consideration your lawful options, but also the jurisdictions that may be more favorable to your situation.
- Service of Process– Once you file for divorce, you must have your spouse properly served with the divorce papers. How you must serve your husband or wife depends on a number of factors, and it will be more complicated if they are stationed overseas. If your spouse is stationed in another country, an international treaty may dictate how you must serve them. Always speak with a military divorce attorney before filing for divorce and attempting to serve your spouse with the appropriate paperwork. We will review the applicable laws and discuss the possibility of your spouse waiving service of process and allowing you to simply mail them the documents.
- Child Custody– When separating from your spouse whom you share children with, you have to consider how the military will impact your shared child custody. This may not be a significant concern if you and your spouse agree you will have full custody. However, ensuring your children have a strong relationship with their parent in the military may require a unique custody arrangement, such as having your children stay with their mother or father while they are on leave. Keep in mind that your spouse’s deployments cannot be used as a factor against their having a certain amount of custody or visitation. A military divorce lawyer at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC can inform you of the various options military families have used to successfully co-parent.
- Spousal Support– During marriages in which one spouse is in the military, the other spouse may be a stay-at-home parent. This is often common if the non-military spouse has trouble continuing their education or finding work due to the many required moves around the country or world. If you stayed home with the children, you may be at a financial disadvantage and need to request spousal support. You also have to take into consideration that without military housing, your living expenses will increase after the divorce. Speak with a military divorce lawyer whether you should expect spousal support, and how much.
- Dividing Military Benefits– During any divorce, you will have to discuss how to divide assets, debts, and future benefits. This process can be more complex due to additional applicable laws such as the Uniform Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. Whether certain military benefits are considered marital property or individual property can depend on state law. Whether you are entitled to direct retirement payments in the future depends on the length of your marriage and how long it overlapped with the military service. You need to discuss a Survivor Benefit Plan if you are to receive retirement payments after the service member’s passing. Also, in certain circumstances, you may be able to retain medical, commissary, and other privileges.
Call a Pittsburgh Military Divorce Lawyer Today
Every divorce that includes a service member is going to have unique issues that a divorce unconnected to the military does not. There is no way to avoid the many rules and regulations that will impact how your divorce must proceed. However, the nuances of military service do not have to make your divorce overly complicated or stressful. By working with a divorce attorney who is well-versed in military matters, you have someone to guide you through this process efficiently.
At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we work with many individuals in the military who need to obtain a divorce and many spouses who wish to divorce a current service member. We are here to explain your rights and options, and to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.